What we have is a space mystery/ adventure novel that defies expectations. Admiral starts off having you ask all of the important questions; who are these people? Where are they? Why is the nameless main character (known in the book only as Admiral) weirdly attractive? (okay maybe they are not all important questions…)
Our crew wake up on a strange spaceship on a remote planet that none of them have ever seen before. They save a man from his failing sleeping tube and the only name he gives is his honorary rank of Admiral. This is a interesting concept not knowing the main characters name, especially as the story is told in first person. At first it feels like you can;t really connect with him because you don’t know who he is. On the contrary, the author does a great job a laying hints throughout the book. Every few chapters you will have a brand new idea on who he might be. From an enemy spy, to the very head of their government, the Empress; he could easily be anyone of them.
The rest of the crew are pretty cut and dry. Nils the mechanic, Deilani the medic, and Salmagard the negotiator all have different personalities but don’t really shine as much as the Admiral does. He is a obvious drug user, he is very smart, and he can be charismatic. The others can be smart and the story would be nothing without them, but ultimately they are not very memorable when it is all said and done. The Admiral saves all of them multiple time over and most of the time he does it with style. Not terrible characters, but they are not fantastic ones either.
The mystery surrounding their crash keeps you on your toes the whole time. You learn something new consistently, and every discovery brings up new questions. The author handles it in a way that there are not many slow parts. If there is not explosions, falling rocks, things of that nature then our characters are talking, which usually consists of Deilani being suspicious of who the Admiral is. Whether they are giving backstory to their world or to themselves, it is easy to be fully engaged.
Overall, the ending was nail biting and exciting. Its is action packed and doesn’t disappoint on the mystery of the forgotten planet. There are secrets revealed that were not earth shattering as they may have been intended to be, but still made sense in the end.
I was at first upset that I didn’t know who the Admiral really was and was getting upset about the fact that the book wouldn’t tell me. Looking back on it now I see that it kept me fully intrigued in the story and kept me reading to find out who he is.
Without getting into spoilers, there was a moment at the ending that really took away from a character’s emotional moment earlier in the book. It felt very swept under the rug and was kind of annoying.
The book was a fun mystery and I am interested to see where this could lead to with the series as well. I feel this would have been fine as a stand alone book, but maybe it can be pulled off.
The climax to the story was probably the best written section of the book. Not very many books can actually keep me on the edge of my seat for the climax and really get my heart racing a little but this one managed it. There are probably two things that are keeping me from being able to give this a 9 or 10 rating and one of those is not it’s fault.
First, I did not like the way that the Admiral’s identity was eventually revealed. It was presented as the main mystery of the story but it’s conclusion felt very much like an afterthought.
The other is that when compared to the other book that we read in the same week, Too Like the Lightning, this book felt mostly like mindless entertainment. Very good mindless entertainment but ultimately pretty shallow. It was still a really good book to follow TltL as presented a good contrast by being very fast-paced and action packed.